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Potentially life-threatening emergency
Mucormycosis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: External and Internal Eye
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed
Potentially life-threatening emergency

Mucormycosis in Infant/Neonate

See also in: External and Internal Eye
Contributors: William Farmer MD, Keith Morley MD, Susan Burgin MD, Eric Ingerowski MD, FAAP
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Mucormycosis is a life-threatening fungal infection that occurs in immunocompromised and diabetic patients. These fungal species specifically belong to the class Zygomycetes and are most commonly caused by Rhizopus, Mucor, and Rhizomucor species.

Infection occurs via airborne fungal spores found ubiquitously in dust, soil, and decaying vegetation that are inhaled through the nasopharynx entering into the lungs, sinuses, and gastrointestinal tract. The spores convert into hyphae upon invasion into human tissue, leading to subsequent angioinvasion and tissue necrosis.

The 5 major types of mucormycosis are:
  • Rhino-orbital-cerebral disease – Patients present with unilateral facial pain, headaches, fever, nasal or sinus congestion and discharge, and black, necrotic ulcerations usually involving the palate. Infection can erode locally and spread to the cavernous sinus, the internal carotid artery, and the brain. Orbital involvement can lead to orbital cellulitis, ophthalmoplegia, and multiple cranial nerve palsies, with a potential for permanent residual effects such as blindness and cranial nerve defects occurring up to 70% of the time. These patients may present with only a central retinal artery occlusion.
  • Pulmonary disease – This typically manifests as cough, dyspnea, and unremitting fever despite broad-spectrum antibiotics. Hemoptysis occurs as a result of tissue necrosis and angio-invasion and, rarely, can be fatal. Physical examination findings are nonspecific and include tachypnea, crackles, decreased breath sounds, and wheezing.
  • Cutaneous disease – This form of mucormycosis may be primary or secondary. Primary infection may be associated with direct inoculation from trauma, burns, and surgical wounds. The affected tissue becomes inflamed, followed by subsequent necrosis. Dissemination is rare. Secondary cutaneous mucormycosis occurs from hematogenous spread.
  • Gastrointestinal disease – This is the most common form of mucormycosis in newborns. It is also seen in extreme cases of malnutrition or immunosuppression. It is believed to occur via direct ingestion of spores. Clinical findings may include feeding intolerance, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distention, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Disseminated disease – This most commonly occurs following pulmonary mucormycosis, although it could be a result of any subtype. The brain is the most susceptible to infection, followed by the spleen, heart, skin, and other organs.
In adults and children, rhino-orbital-cerebral and pulmonary mucormycosis are most commonly seen. In neonates, gastrointestinal infection (in approximately half of cases) and cutaneous infection (in approximately one-third of cases) are more common.

Pediatric patients with uncontrolled diabetes, particularly diabetic ketoacidosis, are predisposed to mucormycosis. These fungi have ketone reductase that allows them to thrive in high glucose, acidic environments. Additionally, acidosis decreases macrophage effectiveness, allowing rapid spread along injured blood vessels. Immunocompromised patients with cancer (especially lymphoma and leukemia), neutropenia, AIDS, malnutrition, or extensive burns, and patients who have had chemotherapy treatment, solid organ transplant, hematopoietic cell transplant, or chronic or high-dose steroid use are all susceptible to mucormycosis. Patients with iron overload being treated with deferoxamine are also at increased risk.

Neonates and patients with severe prematurity who are naturally immunocompromised from birth are also at high risk for mucormycosis. Premature infants often have other predisposing factors, such as immature skin barrier function, malnutrition, steroid treatment, hyperglycemia, acidosis, and broad-spectrum antibiotic use. When the gastrointestinal tract of neonates is involved, mucormycosis presents similarly to necrotizing enterocolitis. The fungus most often affects the colon, stomach, ileum, and appendix.

Codes

ICD10CM:
B46.5 – Mucormycosis, unspecified

SNOMEDCT:
76627001 – Mucormycosis

Look For

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Cutaneous: Rhinocerebral: Pulmonary: Gastrointestinal:

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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References

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Last Reviewed:10/22/2019
Last Updated:11/24/2019
Copyright © 2021 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Potentially life-threatening emergency
Mucormycosis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: External and Internal Eye
Mucormycosis (Cutaneous) : Fever, Bite or trauma site, Skin ulcer, Painful skin lesion, Black eschar
Clinical image of Mucormycosis
Copyright © 2021 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.